July

As tends to happen on farms in Summer we have missed doing anything the whole month of June aside from kneeling by the plants, pulling weeds and beginning to tend to the copious bounty that is offering itself for harvest. This means that we have time to tend to little else, blog posts included.

We have been cutting huge amounts of Comfrey, both for bulk dried herb sales and as an incredibly nourishing garden supplement. We use freshly harvested comfrey plants laid down between rows in the herb gardens to enrich soil and as a primary ingredient in our Gardeners Gold, Green Vitality, a plant food and compost activator we create.

June into July on the farm is all about roses, and we have been harvesting the gorgeous blossoms daily. Many baskets full of roses have been laid out on screens in our drying room and most of these will find their way into a number of our herb tea blends. We’ve also been making tinctures, putting up oil and transforming rose petals through distillation into a luscious Rose Hydrosol.

Gail recently set up her copper still on the deck and has been closely monitoring batch after batch of distilling herbs. Yarrow, with its beautiful blue Chamazulene, Hyssop and Calendula, Lemon Verbena and, of course, exquisitely fragrant Rose. These hydrosols will become potent and powerful medicines and beautifying agents for the skin and soul.

 

Our Calendula Blossoms are becoming more abundant by the day and the Hyssop hedges are nearly in full bloom. The Nettles we harvested weeks ago are dried and bagged to be milled upon order. The rest of our drying racks are filled with Yarrow, Calendula, Red Clover and Saint Johns Wort. And, we're making room for the branches of Birch that we will bring in this week.

We have gallon jars of Saint John’s wort oil turning red in the sun and this week Rosa made up batches of Red Clover, Motherwort, Wild Grape and Violet Leaf Tinctures. We’ve so many wonderful women's medicines brewing lovingly on the shelves.

We have our heads down, our wild hearts open and we are listening, learning and growing with the plants. Our hands are busy making the medicines they offer to us and our hearts are full in prayers of gratitude. Both for the abundance of the plants and the privilege we have of transforming them into medicines that will bless lives beyond our own.

Happy Summer. Go outside. Get dirty and rejoice.

June

The month of June has been a mix of grey, wet, unusually windy and cold days with bright, beautiful, warm, sunny days. We've used the overcast days to transplant seedlings and redistribute annuals in the gardens. We've broken up large mother plants of echinacea, separating out the individual plants to act as barriers against the ever spreading wild marjoram. Ten Elecampane were moved to a new garden near the school house and after a week or so of struggling, have begun to perk up. Yay!

We are picking roses everyday now, filling baskets and bags with the small silken petals of our early white roses. All of the roses we’ve gathered so far are laid out on screens in the drying room and have been perfuming the air alongside freshly cut nettles and marjoram. We have a good month of rose gathering ahead of us - the Rosa rugosa blossoms are just beginning to open and the apothecary roses are still tightly in bud. Roses find their way into many of our products; our award winning Rose and Vanilla Elixir, Rose Tincture, Rose Sugar, our luxurious Rose Oil, Rose Incense, our deeply nourishing Rose and Baltic Amber Cream and a number of our Herb Tea blends. This year we will be distilling batches of roses and collecting the rose hydrosol. The rose is so very gracious and generous, giving herself to be harvested twice each season. Once in flower and once in fruit. She is a gentle, yet powerful, cherished medicine for us and we are glad to be back into daily communion with her.

 

Two plantings of oats are in the ground, spaced one week apart. This allows us time to harvest each planting in that small five to seven day window when they are in the milky stage. The last thirty pounds or so will go in on Saturday morning.

 

The Lupins are in full and glorious bloom, the poppies are bursting open and the tendrils of the grapes are reaching up and out, the tiny clusters of fruit swelling larger everyday.

 

We are weeding, rearranging, harvesting and relishing in the beauty of our gardens and their bounty. June Blessings to all!

A Week of Planting and Medicine Making

We have spent the week moving baby plants from the greenhouse to the gardens. Tilling, weeding and creating new beds and shifting plants from old beds to new. We have given a wonderful revitalization to our front herb garden. The fresh beds are now filled with Angelica and Codonopsis from the greenhouse, transplanted Lemon Balm and the longest streching rows of Calendula. Heritage beans Gail brought back from her ancestral mountain in Italy fill a small center plot, alongside onions and horseradish roots.

Ginger has been planted in the greenhouse and covered with a thick layer of our darkest, richest compost. Here they will grow happily alongside the thriving Rhodiola beds, blooming Goldenseal and the creeping and climbing Schisandra, Codonopsis and Clematis vines that blanket the walls and hang delicately overhead.

We continue to rake and break down old ghosts. The blackberry patch was thinned out yesterday, the hops vines are reaching out towards their trellis and with the anticipation of summer interns, a new roof has been put on the Herb House.

Gemmotherapy Elixirs of Horsetail, Rose, Wild Grape and Juniper are put up on the shelves.

The first medicine making of the year is done.

And it feels so good.

Back On The Farm

After winters spent in Italy, France, and just down the road, we have all been migrating slowly back on the farm to begin another season.

The early spring plants are beginning to reveal themselves, beautiful little stands of Bloodroot beckon us to visit and sit quietly in the woods. Garlic mustard,  nettles and dandelion greens are nourishing our winter hearts and bellies, finding their ways into early spring pestos, breads, and potatoes with the orange yolky eggs of Ashley's father's chickens. Almost everything we eat right now is accompanied with spoonfuls of Ashley's fresh goat cheese mixed with garlic sprouts and wild Marjaram and lovely, silky glasses of cold, fresh goat milk. Our bodies have been so hungry for these things and are feeling supremely nourished.

Graces' goats have been grazing the woodlands on the peripheries of the farm and feeding our spirits. Three new babies were born just last week and we are getting so much enjoyment from watching them steady themselves on new legs and venture out to pasture with their mama.

Among all the new life and growth there is much work to be done to pave way for the harvests of this season. Breaking down the ghosts of last years plants, tilling the soil for our growing seedlings of Calendula, Marshmallow and Angelica among others.

And weeding, weeding, weeding.

We have the pleasure, here in Maine, of dressing for three climates in any given day. Chilly mornings, hot sun warmed afternoons and nights by the wood stove. We've relished in the much needed rain this week and appreciated its slowing of our progress as we know that the plants were in much need of a spring drenching.

We have begun to tackle spring cleaning projects around the farm, restoring Gail's son Johnny's first building project, originally a shelter for cows and pigs, into a usable storage space for wood and building materials. Taking some truck fulls to the dump, repurposing old materials for the new animals to come, outdoor sink projects and carefully storing all that may serve us in the future.

We've built arbors for our hops and pruned back the grapes and roses. Buds are being gathered daily, before leafing out, for our Gemmotherapy elixirs and Rosa is gathering product, mixing medicines and shipping out your many orders from the past month.

Another season has begun,we are busy. And delighted.

The Rhythmic Advancement of Spring

In my yearly travels back to the states from wintering over in the Haute Savoie region of France, nestled between Lac Leman and the French Alps, I have the wonderful privilege of watching the very precious beginning weeks of Spring unfold three times.

With Spring coming just a few weeks earlier in France than the Connecticut shore, where I stop to visit family, and just a few weeks earlier in Connecticut than in Maine, I get to watch those first weeks again and again, before I end my seasonal migration at my yurt on the back fields of Blessed Maine Herb Farm in Athens. Where this year I have the pleasure of returning to work for my third season, under the guidance of Gail Faith Edwards.

Among my abundant blessings this one I carry very dear, tasting those first dandelion greens, three times over, visiting my beloved ramp patches both in France and then again in Connecticut, where as if by magic they are suspended in the same perfect place for harvesting weeks apart.

 

Around February my dreams and heart begin turning back to Maine and imagining the shifting of roots and rhizomes underneath the frozen soil. The birch trees begin to swell and flow with sap and the anticipation builds for that controlled and glorious explosion which is Spring.

While it is a great comfort to know that the bursting forth of Mother Earth in Spring is autonomous, independent of all human eyes that might witness the surge, how much greater is the joy when we can participate. When we can lay with ears and wild hearts pressed to the earth and hear those aching songs of growth, knowing with immense gratitude and willing hands that it is time to get back to work.

In preparation for the 2016 season at Blessed Maine Herb Farm, Rosa has been tapping birch trees and Ashley has been starting our perennial herb seeds in greenhouses and sunny kitchen tables. 

 

Meanwhile, Grace is lovingly gathering a small herd of goats who will browse the woodlands of the farm and provide, milk, cheese and meat.

Also, we are looking forward to working with other Maine farmers in the Maine Organic Herb Growers Cooperative to provide you with a wide array of superior quality bulk dried medicinal herbs. Our intention is to serve small scale herbalists, medicine makers and herb stores as well as large herb suppliers. And, by working together and combining the fruits of our labor, we hope to stimulate the local economy and bring increased prosperity and support to small farms in Maine.

We are and will continue to be advocates for local food, medicine and grass roots economic growth within our central Maine community.

 

It is with bright and blooming hearts that all of us at Blessed Maine Herb Farm invite you to follow along with us this season.

Watch the growth, gifts and blessings of the plants, trees and animals and share in our joy of being the stewards of this beautiful piece of ridge top land.